Am I a bad student or did I just have a rough studio critic?


Like all studio critics tend to be, mine this year was rather odd. Being very old-fashioned, I felt like he had favorites from our section. Of course, that could be speculation. We have a gallery of student work and it gets updated after final reviews. The professors send us an email to let us know who should leave what. I had guessed what three students he would pick before he even sent the email because he liked them so much. One of them had a rather interesting roof choice as it looked like a set of stairs. Another did not finish his model and even admitted that to the jurors during final review. I know my project was not the best, but after he called my work 'mediocre at best' I started to think about the semester I've had. I don't feel as if my final review went bad -- it certainly could not have been as bad the guy's review who didn't finish his model. I received the most attention out of the group I was presenting with, and I felt that was in a positive way. I guess what I'm trying to ask is if there is a way to tell if I'm not good enough for this major or if I just got on my critic's bad side?

Dec 14, 19 12:22 am

Keep in mind that the completeness of deliverables is not necessarily a representation of whether you understood the point or educational value of an assignment. You could spit out a bunch of shit and still not have gotten anything out of or understood the assignment. I don't think that a professor has "favorites" per se. Your reading of "favoritism" is about which students were able to "read between the lines" of the assignment and intuitively understand what the professor was wanting the students to learn. If you are worried about not understanding what the assignment is, you have to communicate with your professor and ask him to explain to you what the learning objectives are.

Dec 14, 19 12:32 am

It's highly likely that you're right: you got on your critic's bad side. Hopefully next semester will be a better fit between you and your professor. There is so much time to continue learning, don't write yourself off as not good enough for this major based on one professor's response.

It's true that we humans tend to focus more mental energy on the bad comments than the good ones. Consider the criticism seriously, but as a constructive critique of your work, not commentary on who you are as a human. If he offered specifics - craftsmanship? proportion? material choices? didn't address the program requirements? - then listen and reflect on those comments and try to improve in those areas next term.  

But saying "mediocre at best" is lousy criticism; if that's all the critic offered then just ignore it - he was being lazy. 

Dec 14, 19 10:14 am
liberty bell

One of the comments we heard a lot in architecture school was that the students who got A’s in design often would burn out, but it was the ones who got C’s in design who would end up having very successful careers. One of my classmates who was never a star designer has been running their own firm very successfully for two decades now, not doing groundbreaking work, but making a great living and a difference in the community. It takes all kinds to do architecture.

Dec 14, 19 10:17 am

This is what I wish someone would've told me in school. School is often an elitist environment, not built for all to be able to learn and excel. Fortunately, the field is vast and there is room for many more than what is narrowly portrayed in school.


I think professors have favorites.  it's human nature, especially with such subjective subject matter.  I've been the favorite, but more often I would be the problem student.  keep at it and keep your confidence up.  keep learning.  good luck.

Dec 14, 19 11:20 am

I second you on being both the favorite and problem student. However, i’ll say it depends on who you ask. It may vary, haha. Part of being an architecture major is taking criticism lightly while simultaneously keeping track of the actual criticisms and actively working to fix them.


It's not your "job" to get in head of the instructor to make appease them. It you only feed the monsters what they like you reinforce their implicit biases.

Your "job" is to respond to the brief and the deliverables and make the most compelling argument possible. That places the responsibilities squarely on your shoulders, but it also frees you from feeling the need to the appease them. And if you make a compelling argument, you'll garner attention, because you're creating conversations.

Your "goal" (yes, they are separate points)- is to make work that represents your interest in design and the built environment. Meaning- it's okay to get a c (or what ever the lowest acceptable grade is) on a project if you are proud about the outcomes and it is a strong addition to your portfolio. 

Dec 14, 19 12:31 pm

We just got grades back. .04 points away from being a B. 

Dec 14, 19 2:01 pm
Non Sequitur

What's the class average? Back when I was in school, a B grade was usually given to those who completed all the tasks in the course syllabus but who did not put in much more effort than that.


Good point from Non here. At my school, a C grade was "meeting expectations" and providing only the listed deliverables. They tried to give a lot of room to reach outside of C-level work, but more often than not, it just came across as discouraging.


Your professor appears to be an asshole. Move on from this and finish school. USA architecture schools are so skewed and unrealistic that a bad grade here or there means nothing about your eventual performance in the real world.


A "bad critique" is only possible when you don't get any useful information for furthering your learning. If they rip someone a new one and they learned something from it; it was a good critique but an uncomfortable experience. If you're spending your time worrying about what your presentation will be like compared to others, I think that's not going to allow you to focus on what you need to do for your project. Was your project visually communicated to say exactly what you wanted it to say without you having to explain it? Why do you think the other students work was chosen over yours?

Dec 15, 19 4:26 pm

.04 points from a B... never in my life have I seen a studio run in such a way to validate that level of grade specificity.  (though I've also had grades like that...)  Is it supposed to suggest that one more rendition, one more exploration, one more render, some sort of slightly extra moment captured or expressed, would have pushed the grade up a letter?  No, in reality, grades like that are a statement.  Happy holidays and here's looking to next semester!

Dec 15, 19 11:46 pm
Non Sequitur

or it's a percentage. Like 4% away from a B?


If you feel you have developed and are ready to move forward, then make plans for that and don't worry that the professor didn't have grand things to say about your work.  I had one professor who made me think of quitting.  Luckily, she disappeared for a while and I was able to get tutelage from some folks who helped me along in my development.  

My favorite critique was a professor that called my work "totally reasonable".  I wasn't blowing anyone's minds with designs.  But, I wasn't presenting glaringly flawed work.  Good enough for me. Got a job in the midst of the recession and have been working ever since. 

Dec 16, 19 9:14 am
Non Sequitur

I had one of those crazy old cooks teachers who had a habit of giving triple minus F to students... and where a C+ was a good grade. He eventually was asked to retire (mid 2000s) but following my 4th year project presentation, he stopped me in the hall as I was loading my car and simply said "Good job". I got a A.


“The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone (or cornerstone, or keystone)" (Psalm 118:22).

I am not religious at all but take the dude's comment with a grain of salt. Any professor that cannot criticise constructively has no business in the classroom. 

Dec 16, 19 1:11 pm
Non Sequitur

quoting scripture is irrelevant and intellectually poor taste.


Both the Old and New Testament are an integral part of western civilization. I quoted a parable to make the young guy feel better and thought it appropriate to attribute the source. I'll try a Grimm Fairy Tale next time to make you feel better.

Non Sequitur

Thank you. If we're going to quote fictional books, better take something with less insulting context.


Oof, rough day NS?


Volunteer, I do think the scriptural meaning to the quoted scripture is irrelevant to the context of the OP's situation. Religious or not, is besides the point. The theological principle behind the particular scripture does not have sufficient relevance to the OP's situation with a poor studio critic. I think your own following statement "Any professor that cannot criticise constructively has no business in the classroom" is all that you needed to say and would be better addressing the OP's situation.

Non Sequitur

Sorry, was trying to light something I clearly did not have the time to tend to.


I've always been bothered by this parable. There's no justification to it, no greater point beyond "This was considered not good but turns out it was the best!" ...ok. Why? But that's not a question the priests like to hear, in my experience.

Non Sequitur

As a side note... (and I was working on a disney line of quotes with masonry themes until I was sidetracked by a complicated RFI), is the keystone really a rejected stone? Are they not the nicer, more ornamental choice?

I don't think the meaning is really there for a non-theological reading or understanding of it. The passage wasn't written to indicate good construction practice ... it is supposed to be messianic. It catches the reader's attention primarily because it doesn't make sense in a secular reading. You're supposed to think, "That doesn't make any sense. Why would the rejected stone end up becoming the cornerstone or keystone? Shouldn't the best stone be chosen for the cornerstone or keystone to keep the building from falling down?" Then you're supposed to realize ... "Oh, the stone is Jesus who was rejected (crucified) but is the thing that keeps the church from falling apart." 

You could take it even further and be all, "Stupid builders don't know what they're doing. It's a good thing we have 'The (all knowing) Architect' who knows how to build the church." 

I'll be collecting tithes and offerings through the end of the year so you can all say you've donated to charity this year.

Non Sequitur

I will send extra prayers your way EI.


What will you do with all of the tithes?


Everyday_Architect is pretty good take on the theology where it is about God accepting the outcast ("rejected stones") of society to build a church. It doesn't make sense in the context of this studio critic. While Jesus was talking about picking the rejected people of society to build the church.... the underdogs... the people unlikely to ever be chosen to make a world difference. Like his disciples. The lot of people whom would have never been thought of to be the foundation from which the "Church" is built. How does the scriptural passage have relevance to abigail's case of a shitty studio critic? I don't know. In theology of the Bible and especially the hymn "The Church's One Foundation".... is Jesus Christ. The cornerstone of the "Church" is the Christians.... mere sinners....imperfect people like the imperfect stones that would be rejected but made perfect by the Perfect Mason.... the Lord of All. One little Word wipe away sins, the death by the resurrecting Word that subdues the limitations of the universe we know. The means and method is beyond our little minds could understand. What does any of this have to do with a little insignificant mind of a little insignificant studio professor who is nothing more than a little dust spec for an insignificant duration of time that is barely a blip in time that if you blink.... you miss the moment. 

Surely one dust spec can be significant to another dust spec but surely I tell you, the sum of us are insignificant in the whole universe scale yet one dust can be significant to community of dust albeit not the world or universe but a community and touching the lives. However, this one studio professor is not the world... not the universe. Just another dust spec in the dust pile. Take what you can learn from that dust spec and the next one and next one and so forth so that you can to improve your knowledge so you can be a significant dust in every small community of dust that you can touch the lives of in a positive way in your career wherever you are.

One thing I’m smart enough to just let go, a religious dumpster fire with Rick at the pulpit.


Show your work to non architects.  If they can understand it and better yet, they like it, you'll be fine once you get through school.  

Dec 16, 19 1:43 pm

I was a horrible student, and I have survived the profession 

Dec 17, 19 12:30 pm

It might still get you careful.


What’s gonna get me?

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